Monday, May 4, 2015


Why isn't this getting more play?
The leader of the Federal Election Commission, the agency charged with regulating the way political money is raised and spent, says she has largely given up hope of reining in abuses in the 2016 presidential campaign, which could generate a record $10 billion in spending.
“The likelihood of the laws being enforced is slim,” Ann M. Ravel, the chairwoman, said in an interview. “I never want to give up, but I’m not under any illusions. People think the F.E.C. is dysfunctional. It’s worse than dysfunctional.”
Politicians like Jeb Bush and Martin O'Malley are raising money without even formally declaring their candidacies, as required by quaint federal election law. "Everybody does it" is the new legalized way of bribery, as the billions changing hands becomes the main story and the measure of a candidate's worth. The corruption is not only complete, it has become a badge of honor among thieves. Gone are the good old days of bag-men and midnight meetings in hotel rooms and, heaven forbid, undercover FBI agents wiring provocateurs for sound in hopes of catching crooked pols in the act.

Wild West, meet The Sopranos.

For all intents and purposes, our country's electoral regulatory watchdog is not only muzzled, it's been effectively euthanized after a valiant 40-year run.  Four decades ago, during Watergate, the nation still had the capacity to be shocked. It searched its soul and saw that it was rotten. The rot has continued to eat away at democracy until it can no longer be said to exist.

Nixon's C.R.E.E.P. (Committee to Re-elect the President) and its sleazy slush fund sound so quaint nowadays. Nixon, were he running today, could expect to garner glowing headlines for his fund-raising prowess. The multibillion-dollar Clinton and Bush machines make him look like St. Francis of Assisi.

Congress might as well make it official and cut off the feeding and funding of the moribund F.E.C. Or they might use the neoliberal method of reanimation and simply privatize it. Coors Light could complain to a corporate electoral tribunal if it was being undercut by Schlitz in the "who'd you rather have a beer with?" billionaire sweepstakes. 

Don't laugh. After all, presidential debates have been privatized and controlled by corporate sponsors for years. The rules clearly state that if the oligarchy doesn't buy a candidate a minimum 15% share of the votes in rigged national polls, then that candidate can be barred from participating. It happened to Dennis Kucinich in 2008. It happened to Green Party candidate Jill Stein in 2012. Not only was she barred, she was taken to a secret police prison and shackled for the duration of the "free and open" discussion.

As Christopher Hitchens wrote, "the polling business gives the patricians an idea what the mob is thinking, and of how that thinking might be changed, or shall we say ‘shaped.’ It is the essential weapon in the mastery of populism by the elite. It also allows for ‘fine calibration’ and for capsules of ‘message’ to be prescribed for various constituencies.”

Also -- forget about the United Nations coming in to monitor our free and fair elections. If the outside world tried that trick, and called the One Indispensable Nation out on its perfidy, the American griftopoly would simply cut off their funding too, before evicting them from the Income Disparity Capital of the World.

Meanwhile, an antidote to insanity:



annenigma said...

I guess the next progression, or regression, in the buying of elections is the matter of which politician can be corrupted more thoroughly. It's becoming a seller's market for the most crooked politician.

The quid pro quo between Chicago thug Barack Obama and his mega donors continues, not just in advancing and broadening stealth wars and mass surveillance, but also fighting for the TPP like we've never seen him fight before.

Businessmen want continuity, certainty, and unflinching corruptibility, so I'd put my money on Hillary Clinton to succeed the Chicago thug. The money has already been pouring in through her opaque bribery account called the Clinton Foundation and it's many hidden tentacles and corporate partnerships.

How can Hillary Clinton NOT become the next Emperor in such an obviously corrupt system?

Denis Neville said...

The question of five pails of milk …

“Never mind the milk, comrades!" cried Napoleon, placing himself in front of the buckets. "That will be attended to. The harvest is more important. Comrade Snowball will lead the way. I shall follow in a few minutes. Forward, comrades! The hay is waiting."

So the animals trooped down to the hayfield to begin the harvest, and when they came back in the evening it was noticed that the milk had disappeared.”

― George Orwell, Animal Farm

Thus, the ideal of Animal Farm, still so young, began to die. Things only got worse.

In the words of Carl Sagan, “Once you give a charlatan power to fool you, you almost never get it back.”

We need a political revolution in this country.

A political revolution is coming.

Meredith NYC said...

Karen, great post to Charles Blow today. Why can’t we have columnists explicitly linking Baltimore etc, to Reaganesque economics as you say. It’s left up to the readers to do it properly. I think that the abusive police are acting out the disrespect they see by our govt and economic policies to minorities, especially. So convenient we are divided by skin color---so handy for spotting the different groups from 100 yards.

PK, our knee jerk Nobel is at it again. In his blog with paranoia in the right wing belief that a military training exercise in Texas is a cover for Obama to seize control of the state and force its citizens to accept universal health care at gunpoint.
I said:

Ok we're scared. Like Fox scares its public, Krugman scares his public.

But we know, this is just an expected 2016 repeat performance of the chorus line of right wing nuts running to lead the ‘world’s greatest democracy’. No or little equivalent in other advanced-- and even not so advanced-- democracies around the globe.

If our Nobel economist wants to fill his blog with repeated blasts at every twitch of our sick extremist rw, he obviously enjoys it, but it’s getting tiresome to some readers.

It would be more constructive and informative to read comparisons of the US right wing with the rw parties of other democracies—UK, Germany, France, Holland, Italy, Japan, etc. What are their programs? What is their left wing like, too? Compare and contrast. That comparison might affect our debates a bit.

What do you run into in all your world travels, Mr. krugman, besides those pesky austerians?

Meredith NYC said...

Speaking of Reagan, I just got this email from Roosevelt House, Hunter College, re author talk on new bio of Reagan...says 'his defining principles are till felt today'.

Unfortunately. The Dems haven't been able to properly reverse what he set in motion.
Is it true Reagan was once a fervent New Deal Roosevelt fan? What changed him?

H.W. Brands
Reagan: The Life

Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Program 6:00 pm
Followed by a book signing

In his latest book, historian H.W. Brands, author of the bestselling Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, turns his attention to Ronald Reagan, whom Brands argues was one of the two great presidents of the twentieth century, a true peer to FDR.

In his talk at Roosevelt House, Brands will discuss Reagan's life and presidency, explaining how the confident force of Reagan's personality and the unwavering nature of his beliefs enabled him to engineer a conservative revolution in American politics and play a crucial role in ending communism in the Soviet Union.

Reagan is based on archival sources not available to previous biographers and draws as well on dozens of interviews with surviving members of Reagan's administration.

Brands offers new insights into Reagan's remote management style and fractious West Wing staff, his deft handling of public sentiment to transform the tax code, his deeply misunderstood relationship with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and the ways in which he shut down the age of liberalism and ushered in the age of Reagan, whose defining principles are still powerfully felt today.

Doris Kearns Goodwin says of Brands' Reagan:

The Life "A superb biographer writing at the top of his game has found the perfect subject for his narrative skills and profound understanding of the American presidency. Over the years H. W. Brands has produced an extraordinary body of historical and biographical works. This is his masterpiece."

Karen Garcia said...

I've read A Traitor to His Class, so will definitely try Brands' tome on Reagan. Speaking of whom, I know I've written this before, but I can't recommend Rick Perlstein's trilogy on the rise of the right wing enough. It spans the time from Goldwater, through the civil rights movement, to Reagan's first failed presidential campaign.(primary against Ford) Very entertaining read(s), interspersing real-time news coverage with the usual backroom intrigue crap. Reagan was a great president only for his uncanny ability to stab people in the back with an avuncular chuckle, with the stabbed people thinking they were getting a massage.

The GOP milked the "race riots" for all they were worth, so the present day spin is nothing new and totally expected.

It's always a good time to re-read Orwell. I read his "Down and Out in Paris and London" again recently; a classic memoir of the poverty genre.

I wonder if at this point if there is even a scandal outrageous enough to take down the Clintons. I think probably not. But at least we will not make it easy for her.

Meredith NYC said...

Karen....Yes I agree don’t make it too easy for Hillary to ignore the nation’s needs. But she must win. We have no choice. What’s the main future issue? I was speaking to NY Congressman Nadler in CVS today. I asked him what’s our way out from Citizens United? He said we can’t get enough states to ratify an amendment. What’s crucial are Supreme Court retirements in future, and a democratic pres to nominate liberals to change the court and reverse CU.

A Repub pres picking justices—we’ll watch the last of what’s left of democracy disappear. They distort our own constitution to ruin it.

So it’s crucial we do nothing to harm Clinton’s chances--- whether we like or disapprove of her. Sanders may help, let’s hope.

Maybe I’ll try the Pearlstein book after your rave. Read the Orwell in college, it made an impression. I should read his stuff on propaganda.

I just tried to read a book called The Age of Acquiescence, by Steve Fraser, comparing the 1st gilded age with our widening income gap now—asks why is the middle/working class not rising up to demand change, as in previous eras? Good topic, but alas---it’s unreadable! The most wordy and disorganized book ever—don’t they have editors?

Denis Neville said...

Hillary Clinton heading to Hollywood on May 7th…

“Money and power mesh like peanut butter and jelly sprinkled with caviar.” - Nomi Prins, “Hillary and Hollywood money”

“If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.” - Dorothy Parker

“I think I knew first what side I was on when I was about five years old, at which time nobody was safe from buffaloes. It was in a brownstone house in New York, and there was a blizzard, and my rich aunt—a horrible woman then and now—had come to visit. I remember going to the window and seeing the street with the men shoveling snow; their hands were purple on their shovels, and their feet were wrapped with burlap. And my aunt, looking over my shoulder, said, "Now isn't it nice there's this blizzard. All those men have work." And I knew then that it was not nice that men could work for their lives only in desperate weather, that there was no work for them when it was fair.” - Dorothy Parker, New Masses, 1939

Dorothy Parker was way ahead her time in pushing for social justice. She was blacklisted in Hollywood for her participation in left-wing causes. She was a pioneer in the civil rights movement and her memorial at the NAACP headquarters in Baltimore is a testament to it:

"Here lie the ashes of Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) Humorist, writer, critic, defender of human and civil rights. For her epitaph she suggested "Excuse My Dust". This memorial garden is dedicated to her noble spirit which celebrated the oneness of humankind, and to the bonds of everlasting friendship between black and Jewish people."

Karen Garcia said...


Just curious. How would you define "doing nothing to harm Clinton's chances?"

Meredith NYC said...

Karen....good question...don't know. H/c seems a calculating,manipulating part of the big money establishment,without principles. That's her contrast with Sanders. Bill was Republican old style, just not extreme rw. We're stuck. I'm wary of over stressing her negatives, my true outlook on her. How many voters, turned off by Clinton dishonesty, true or exaggerated may switch to Gop because they don't understand the issues, and are easily gulled? Romney got 47%.

What else have we got? We have to demand she work for the majority, and tell us how. And as I just heard on TV,what Repub candidate has a foundation helping world poverty and distress? Ok. it was Howard Dean.
The failure of govts makes charity necessary.